Month: April 2014

I Myself Can Not: “Futamono”


(in which Jason and Kate have a crisis of faith)

KATE: Hey Jason! What an episode, right? We’re officially halfway through the season, so I figured it’s as good a time as any to discuss the season so far…before wildly flailing about and predicting where the show might go from here.

Maybe I’m too obsessed with parallels to the source material (and I think it’s safe to say I am), but the focus of this season has been character development. Think of where we started–everyone thought Will was the Chesapeake Ripper and had to come to grips with that. A few episodes later, Will has to drop some hints that Hannibal is the real killer and Jack is immediately testing appetizers for evidence of human flesh. It doesn’t take a lot to convince Jack that something is off with Hannibal–really, just that one conversation with Dr. Chilton– and that’s telling. Why is he so easy to convince? Is it because he’s never trusted Hannibal in the first place? Jack routinely bears his soul to the man, so that’s doubtful. Is it because he’s a cop? Maybe…Jack is always ready to suspect anyone of anything. Is it because it would mean Will isn’t guilty? Probably.

Have you noticed that every character on this show has an almost unnatural draw towards Will? Doesn’t that strike you as odd? He’s almost a deus ex machina at this point. Before evidence at the lab surfaces supporting Will, Jack is willing to take Will to crime scenes and test the meat served at Hannibal’s shindig. Dr. Chilton buys into the idea that Hannibal is a cannibal for no other reason than he heard Will pitching it to Gideon in his cell. That’s weird, right?

Then there’s Alana. Alana has sex with Hannibal and it’s explained later that she did it because she’s grieving for Will. Wait, what? That animal hoarder/suspected serial killer that you kissed once? Okay, I guess. To be fair, Hannibal says something similar, but it’s later revealed he’s using Alana as an alibi. That’s just bad writing. This is a show already lacking in female characters. In this season alone, one disappeared out of fear, one is a guest star wife at death’s door and a third was chopped into pieces. Alana, on the other hand, is a living litmus test indicating the fortunes of two male characters. She may bear an odd Will shaped cross, but her interest is ultimately with Hannibal. Her arc with Hannibal and Will has reduced Alana into a Golden Vagina Trophy**, which remains a cheap and regressive writing technique.

Ugh, there’s so much I haven’t commented on. This episode was SO heavy on Hannibal/Silence of the Lambs callbacks. That conversation between Will and Jack when they discuss the Chesapeake Ripper’s motives? Hannibal’s dinner scene with Gideon? That scene in the barn? Stop it, Fuller. It hurts too much.

So where do we go from here? How soon until Jack and Hannibal rumble? Does Hannibal cook breakfast the morning after? Will the Vergers show up this season? Jason, help! There’s too many emotions!

Some odd things to focus on:

–Do you really think Jack knew the names of all those flowers off the top of his head? I don’t.

–**For readers unfamiliar with the term I made up, a Golden Vagina Trophy is a word for a female character who exists as a prize to be fought over by two men. Common examples include: Laurie Grimes (The Walking Dead) and Julia McNamara (Nip/Tuck).

JASON: I don’t know what this says about me, but even though this episode ended with Eddie Izzard eating his own leg, I was far more disturbed by the pillow talk between Hannibal and Alana.

Before I go any further, let me second your concerns with the Golden Vagina Trophy. We’ve talked about this show’s progressive distribution of female character during this very season, but as of this episode, I’m a little bit concerned. I understand that Gillian Anderson has a full schedule, and Beverly Katz’s storyline made her more interesting than either of her male co-workers. But when you consider the fact that Bella will probably die before the season is up, it starts to look like Fuller and company are sort of mowing down their female characters. Granted, this episode kills one male character and brings back a female one that we thought was dead… but still, it does worry me a little.

I don’t think this would bother me if it weren’t for Alana’s storyline in this episode. I know I swore to put all of my faith in the Holy Trinity of Fuller, Mikkelsen and Dancy, but I can’t help but think that the show is wasting Dr. Bloom. Fuller seems to be aware of it, too; he’s mentioned in interviews that he worries about tying Alan’s character arc too closely to her romantic feelings for Will. But his solution appears to be… tying her character arc to her romantic feelings for Hannibal. To a certain degree, everyone in this show is defined by their relationship Hannibal or Will, but having a female character bounce back and forth between them like the aforementioned trophy just feels lazy. On a lot of shows, it wouldn’t stick out, but Hannibal is usually so well-written that it really bugs me.

But it’s possible I just don’t like the idea of Hannibal and Alana having sex. I’m going to take another step further away from legitimate criticism here, but seriously: ew. Ew ew ew. I can’t say it’s out of character for Hannibal to want to cloud Alana’s judgement with a thick fog of European sex appeal or for Alana to be attracted to someone with the wounded puppy-dog appeal of having almost died. But actually seeing it happen just feels unnatural, possibly because I don’t like seeing Hannibal as a sexual being… but again, that might say more about me than about the show.

I don’t quite agree with you about Chilton and Jack switching to Will’s side too easily. Jack has wanted to believe Will since the season began, and Chilton… well, I think Chilton just wants to feel smarter than everyone else. It just so happens that in this case, he’s right. By the way, since this season has been so light on Freddie Lounds, Chilton has become my go-to favorite, for all his oily self-confidence and that adorable cane he walks around with.

Come to think of it, if this show gave us a little more Freddie, it would go a long way towards smoothing out the dead woman issue. In fact, can we get her a Chilton together more often? Ooh! They could share an apartment! Do you think Fuller is accepting spec scripts? Because this could be just the dose of wackiness this show needs.

–so, we kind of glossed over this, but it looks like Will is going to be cleared of all those murders he didn’t commit. Not gonna lie, I didn’t think he’d get out of that cell until the end of the season, but I’m excited to see where we go now.

–sub-note to the previous note: do you think Hannibal decided to free Will because Wil tried to murder him? Hannibal, the loving teacher, proud that Will is finally embracing his murderous potential.


I Myself Can Not: “Mukōzuke”


(in which Jason and Kate finally find one minor point of disagreement before discovering they have fused into a single living brain)

JASON: Hi, Kate! Let’s talk about body horror!

The effectiveness of body horror largely relies on the individual viewer–and if I haven’t made it clear, I find it extremely effective–but in general terms, it works by violating the idea of our physical self, which we, for obvious reasons, are very attached to. Body horror is typically more effective when it happens to a central character, or at least one that we relate to on something beyond a surface level. Seeing a total rando get his brain replaced with a beehive is upsetting, but the more we relate to a character, the more we identify with them, and the more upset we our by that violation of their physical self.

And so, as I predicted last week, the sight of Beverly chopped up and displayed like a Damien Hirst art piece hit me hard. Director Michael Rymer and the writing team delicately play both sides of Beverly’s fate: when we first see her, it’s a relief that she’s even recognizable, but as the shot plays out, we discover that she’s been sliced into pieces. Compared to some of the other deaths on this show, it’s still pretty tame, and I appreciate that the creative team didn’t feel the need to rub our noses in it. But they also didn’t miss an opportunity to lower our defenses and then twist the knife.

We get another display of this body horror principle later on, after Will has orchestrated Hannibal’s murder. In a brief dream sequence, Will collapses on the floor as antlers burst through his skin and cover his back. Given how well the show has used the stag symbolism (I loved that moment when Will sees the stagman figure lurking behind Beverly’s corpse), the implication of that moment is obvious. But even though we might morally know that Will has crossed a line, even if Hannibal totally deserves it, that brief yet vivid violation of Will’s body and the distress it causes him drives the point home in a visceral way.

Anyway, let’s talk about what’s really important: Freddie Lounds is in this episode! Oh, and Gideon’s back, too. That was a surprise. Will plays on Dr. Chilton’s oh-so-delicious vanity and gets the man he tried to kill brought in for questioning. I was under the impression that Will’s murder of Gideon was more than ‘attempted’, but it wouldn’t be the first time I misunderstood something. Considering that Chilton survived having most of his organs removed from his body, I’d say the bar is set pretty high for permanent death in the Hannibal universe. Except when it comes to Beverly, in which case you can just choke her out.

Sorry. Too soon?

There’s lot to talk about in this episode, and almost all of it was good. The one thing that didn’t quite work for me was the reveal of Will’s secret admirer. Turns out it was… an orderly in the hospital. Okay? Bryan Fuller says in this week’s Walkthrough that the whole secret admirer plot was built to get us to the moment where Will sends his new ally to kill Hannibal. The seams definitely show, but the end result was good enough that I don’t care.

This episode of Hannibal left me more excited than any other to find out what happens next. What can Jack and Alana actually prove about Will’s involvement in the attempt on Hannibal’s life? What will that mean for Will? What is Will’s next move? How will Hannibal react to having his closest friend try to murder him? When are the Vergers going to show up? When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?

I don't know if I'm really prepared to consider the implications of the way Hannibal is posed.

I don’t know if I’m really prepared to consider the implications of the way Hannibal is posed.

KATE: I don’t think Jack and Alana can prove much of anything, Jason. All of the conversations between Will and the orderly took place in the one room Dr. Chilton can’t spy on. Furthermore, Jack and Alana are already predisposed to believe Will. Alana has an obvious soft spot for Will and Jack, for all his misgivings, took Will to the scene of Beverly’s death so he could give Jack some input. He hasn’t said it out loud, but it’s obvious that Jack is leaning towards believing Will. Besides, most of the evidence at hand suggests the orderly was Will’s admirer and acting of his own accord. If it sounds kinda lame, that’s because it is. The characters on the show are almost too accepting of random serial killers and psychos, which is why I think Will is safe for now.

Of course, Hannibal is another story. Hannibal isn’t dumb and furthermore, he knows how crazy people think and operate. Naturally, I think Hannibal will be very suspicious of the orderly’s motives. How could he not be? He’ll probably (okay, he will) connect the attempted murder to Will, but there isn’t much he can do, right? Will is safely secure in prison. If Hannibal wants to keep up appearances, he can’t exactly openly attack Will. Will, for his part, knows what Hannibal is at this point. He knew Hannibal was the Chesapeake Ripper and he’s beginning to understand that Hannibal is something even worse. We’re half way through the season. There isn’t too much back and forth left to go on that, especially if we’re going to end up with Hannibal getting into a knife fight with Jack.

I have to disagree with you on the reveal of Will’s admirer. Yeah, he was basically a plot device, but the actor really carried the performance from an obvious plot development to something more. He was creepy, he was effective and furthermore, he’s one of the only people around who has been able to get a drop on Hannibal. After Beverly’s death, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little happy that Hannibal got taken down a notch. It was interesting, both in terms of character development and audience catharsis. How will Hannibal react to a near death experience? How will this play into his relationships with Alana and Jack? Why is no one else concerned that every agent in the FBI is continuously attacked and targeted? How are there so many serial killers in the greater DC area? Seriously, I know I mention this a lot, but it isn’t any less true. Anyway, right until the end, I was thinking that Hannibal and Will’s admirer were working together out of a shared admiration for Will. I was wrong, of course, but hey! Of course, then there’s the reveal that the orderly didn’t kill the judge in Will’s trial. Huh. So was it Hannibal? Or is there a third killer out there?

It may be that I spent most of this episode in an emotional coma after the Beverly reveal or that we share the same brain, but you pretty much covered my thoughts on this episode, Jason. Literally, every point you raised mirrors my notes. The only thing I would want to add are some thoughts about Beverly’s death and discovery. We went from heavy organ in the last episode to a lot of bongos in this one. I have no analysis to offer here, aside from the fact that both instruments were used in an extremely jarring way to different effect. It made for an interesting contrast between the tone of last week’s episode and this one.

I only have one last point to offer, which is to say that I have a lot of logistical questions. Why is the observatory such a serial killer hotspot? Does anyone actually work there or is it just a depository for horribly dismembered corpses? Does Hannibal have a source for life size human microscope slides? He can’t just have those gathering dust in his basement. Furthermore, where did Hannibal get his industrial human saw? Even if he did, how did he transport the Beverly slides to the observatory? I can’t see Hannibal driving a pickup truck. Can you? CAN YOU?